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In 2015, Missouri might play the most true freshmen of the Gary Pinkel era

Predicting Mizzou's first depth chart and which true freshman will play in 2015.

Fullback U

Coming off of double-digit wins in 2007, Gary Pinkel signed a top-25 recruiting class according to Rivals, one that featured nine players who would play as true freshmen: Dan Hoch, Will Ebner, Michael Egnew, Blaine Gabbert, Jerrell Jackson, Andrew Jones, Wes Kemp, Jacquies Smith and Kenji Jackson.

Coming of a double digit win season in 2014, Gary Pinkel signed the No. 27 class according to Rivals and the No. 25 class according to the 247Sports Composite. It features up to 10 players who could play as true freshman: defensive linemen Terry Beckner Jr., Josh Moore, and Nate Howard, receivers Emanuel Hall and Justin Smith, linebackers Terez Hall and Franklin Agbasimere, safety Cam Hilton, punter Corey Fatony, and quarterback Drew Lock could all avoid redshirt seasons. All 10 might not play (and there's an 11th candidate in injured receiver Johnathon Johnson), but it appears to still be on the table. We will find out tomorrow, when Mizzou releases its depth chart for the SEMO game.


The question fans are most curious about is whether true freshman Drew Lock plays this fall. He started camp at the bottom but has repeatedly impressed during practice (we know this due to videos and reports from Mizzou itself). He impressed so much he earned snaps with first and second string players by his second scrimmage, as did Marvin Zanders.

Barring injury, there is no way that Gary Pinkel goes away from starting Maty Mauk, who has a 14-4 record over the past two years, even if he has struggled with consistency and accuracy. This is instead a matter of deciding the order of the quarterbacks behind him.

Here are the quarterbacks' combined scrimmage stats*:

  • Drew Lock: 38-51 (74.5%), 484, 9.49 Y/A, 4 TD, INT
  • Marvin Zanders: 19-30 (63.3%), 293, 9.76 Y/A, 3 TD, INT
  • Maty Mauk:  31-56 (55.4%), 305, 5.4 Y/A, 2 TD
  • Eddie Printz: 21-40 (52.5%), 276, 6.9 Y/A, 2 TD, INT

We can argue about who played best with first-, second-, or third-string guys or who took bad sacks or rushed well, but Drew Lock and Marvin Zanders have made the strongest argument to move up the depth chart, even against Eddie Printz, who has the most built in advantages after Mauk.

Above 60% completion ✓
Cose to 10 yards/attempt ✓
Solid TD:INT ratio ✓

Both offer at least the same amount of mobility within the pocket or scrambling, although Zanders certainly has elite breakaway speed.

I was among those who did not think Drew Lock could buck Gary Pinkel from his process, but I don't think you can let Drew Lock sit and run Mizzou's scout team for a year. Lock has shown that he's better than a redshirt and could push for playing time on almost any team in the country.

* Disclaimer: These statistics should obviously not be taken as absolute indicators of performance. They are the sum result of three scrimmages vs. three weeks of unobserved practices that the coaches have to base their decisions on. However, absent any other substantive evidence, this is what we can have to work with.

Wide Receivers

Mizzou has lost its top three receivers for two consecutive years, going from L'Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas and Dorial Green-Beckham in 2013 to Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White in 2014. Mizzou coaches face the unenviable task of asking a quarterback with accuracy issues to improve while replacing his supporting cast once again, this time with receivers who almost all sophomores or younger.

The good news is that, as a collective unit, these wide receivers are absolutely capable of rising to the task. You have to go to the third string to find a player who is below 6'0, and Mizzou could feasibly line up 6'3 or bigger receivers across the field and expect them to perform.

We've discussed these receivers at length in the offseason, but after three scrimmages, a few players have stood out. (Note: I've left Johnathan Johnson off despite his very impressive first scrimmage because the ankle injury he suffered has forced him to miss the last two scrimmages and will probably result in a redshirt season at this point. If he recovers soon, it isn't out of the question that he might play.)


  1. J'Mon Moore (6'3, 190, So.): 8 targets, 5 catches, 105 yards in fall scrimmages (target stats via the Trib's David Morrison)
  2. DeSean Blair (6'3, 190, RSFr.): 10 targets, 7 catches, 86 yards
  3. Emanuel Hall (6'3, 200, Fr.): 11 targets, 10 catches, 138 yards

J'Mon Moore, the most experienced receiver of this group, suffered a left shoulder injury and was held out of the third scrimmage, but he had done enough in one scrimmage to earn back his starting position by most accounts. DeSean Blair has some of the stickiest hands I've ever seen in person, and though he struggles sometimes in blocking, he has demonstrated enough that I think he should be the first substitute at either outside receiver position.

True freshman Emanuel Hall had a very strong third practice, catching all six passes targeted at him, and I believe he's physically and mentally developed enough to contribute as a freshman. He's already seeing time on Mizzou's special teams units.


  1. Nate Brown (6'3, 205, So.): 18 targets, 8 catches, 89 yards, TD
  2. Thomas Richard (6'1, 190, RSFr.): 11 targets, 5 catches, 83 yards, TD
  3. Ray Wingo (5'11, 180, RSFr.): 15 targets, 6 catches, 127 yards, 2 TD

Nate Brown appears a natural fit in the slot, showing great hands, proving capable of getting open with his route running, and shedding tacklers with his athleticism. Behind him, Thomas Richard has the potential to be a super sub for Brown, and Ray Wingo has the speed to stretch the field from the slot.


  1. Wesley Leftwich (6'1, 205, Sr.): 5 targets, 3 catches, 53 yards, TD
  2. Keyon Dilosa (6'3, 200, RSFr.): 7 targets, 3 catches, 38 yards
  3. Justin Smith (6'7, 200, Fr.): 11 targets, 8 catches, 177 yards, TD

Before Wesley Leftwich strained his knee, he was displaying the kind improvements that suggested to me he wasn't getting bypassed. He has speed, and at one point he made a great catch in the back of the end zone while being covered by top corner Kenya Dennis. Behind Leftwich, Keyon Dilosa reminds me of a young Marcus Lucas but has shown a propensity for dropping passes, perhaps due to a lack of focus common in younger players.

It is because of Dilosa's drops and Leftwich's knee strain that I think true freshman Justin Smith has the chance to play as a true freshman. His freakish size, catch radius and deceptive speed make him a matchup nightmare for most corners. Without the huge recruiting ratings, he has a lot of Dorial Green-Beckham's physical characteristics and could work his way into the rotation.

Tight End

  1. Sean Culkin (6'6, 245, Jr.): 9 targets, 4 catches, 27 yards
  2. Jason Reese (6'5, 250, So.): 7 targets, 5 catches, 31 yards, TD
  3. Clayton Echard (6'5, 260, Sr.): 6 targets, 5 catches, 48 yards
  4. Kendall Blanton (6'6, 250, RSFr.): 12 targets, 9 catches, 70 yards, INT

Before Jason Reese's knee injury last Saturday, he and Sean Culkin were basically splitting first team reps. I maintain that Reese was being used as a true tight end and H-Back vs. Culkin's more natural flexed-out role. A source tells me that he's back to practicing and will be resuming full-contact practices this week in preparation for Mizzou's first game vs SEMO.

As for Culkin, I hesitate to say I think his rapport with Mauk has improved until I've seen both of them operating at full game speed, but I do think he's going to be targeted more and will benefit from the direct coaching of offensive coordinator Josh Henson.

Defensive Line


  • Terry Beckner Jr.: 8 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks
  • Josh Augusta: 8 tackles, TFL, QB hurry
  • A.J. Logan: 5 tackles, TFL, sack
  • Rickey Hatley: 4 tackles, TFL, sack
  • Josh Moore: 3 tackles, PBU

At this point, the question isn't if Terry Beckner Jr. will play, but how much and along side whom else? He's currently backing up Josh Augusta, a sign that I think further hints at some schematic plans, and the coaches' faith in his ability to become a plus defender this year.

I also have a source that tells me true freshman Josh Moore will avoid a redshirt this year and provide depth behind Beckner and Augusta. Rickey Hatley and A.J. Logan will man the 3-technique tackle position, and likely the who group will rotate around several times throughout the year.


  • Charles Harris: 11 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 QB hurries
  • Rocel McWilliams: 9 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks
  • Marcell Frazier: 8 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, QB hurry
  • Nate Howard: 7 tackles, 3 TFL
  • Spencer Williams: 4 tackles, TFL, 2 PBU
  • Walter Brady: 3 tackles, QB hurry

A young group led by Charles Harris and Marcell Frazier will have several prospects to rotate in and out, but one guy who could contribute this year is true freshman Nate Howard. He already has the size and the fast first step you look for from a high-caliber defensive end. We may not see him much initially as the coaches continue to sort out rotations, but I could see Howard playing more later in the year as he becomes familiar with the defensive schemes.



  1. Kentrell Brothers: 18 tackles, 4.0 TFL, sack (again, using David Morrison's scrimmage stats)
  2. Joey Burkett: 13 tackles
  3. Grant Jones: 5 tackles, TFL, safety
  4. Franklin Agbasimere

This unit is about as set in stone as you can expect, but I have a comment about freshman Franklin Agbasimere. Smash is almost certainly physically mature enough to play this year. The question is mental, by which I mean his experience with football and his instincts are probably not up to what the coaches want. But that doesn't preclude him from playing special teams, where he could be just an athlete and gain experience.


  1. Michael Scherer: 9 tackles, TFL, PBU
  2. Brandon Lee: 9 tackles, PBU
  3. Eric Beisel: 7 tackles, TFL, QB hurry

This battle was like the one at quarterback: a fight for the backup role. But all signs indicate Brandon Lee has a solid grip on the backup position entering the first week of the season. This doesn't preclude Eric Beisel from playing -- he saw time in at least four games last year and was a positive contributor in three of them. As he told me in an interview, he's not content with being a backup and will continue to fight for a starting middle linebacker spot, but he has seen time at some outside linebacker positions (but no defensive end) through camp.


  1. Donavin Newsom: 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 2 QB hurries
  2. Clarence Green: 16 tackles, 2 TFL, sack
  3. Terez Hall: 11 tackles, INT

The big mystery is the degree to which Barry Odom will put linebackers on the field, starting with the SAM. It is at this position where we may see the most dynamic change from Dave Steckel's 2014 defense. How Barry Odom will run his defense is an article for later, but I am confident that Terez Hall will play as a freshman as he's seen time with the first-team return and coverage units.


  • Thomas Wilson: 19 tackles, TFL, FF, FR, QB hurry
  • Ronnell Perkins: 10 tackles, TFL
  • Cortland Browning: 5 tackles, 0.5 TFL
  • TJ Warren: 4 tackles
  • Anthony Sherrils: 4 tackles, INT
  • Tavon Ross: 2 tackles, TFL, INT
  • Cam Hilton

Two things of note here: 1) Thomas Wilson is a beast and will be play-maker this year. 2) Cam Hilton, like Terez Hall and Emanuel Hall, is seeing time on Mizzou's starting special team units -- signs they will almost definitely play as freshmen.


Corey Fatony has a great leg and is the only scholarship punter on Mizzou's roster. He's in a competition with walk-on punter Dayton Balvanz, but I feel Mizzou will choose Fatony at this point.

Fullback U's depth chart prediction

#16 Brock Bondurant 6'2 215 RS Fr.
#9 TJ Warren 5'11 190 Fr.
#33 Cam Hilton 6'0 180 Fr.
#8 Thomas Wilson5'10 190 So.
#22 Anthony Sherrils 6'0 190 So.
#45 Franklin Agbasimere 6'2 215 Fr. #49 Ferrod Gardner 6'2 200 Fr. #50 Jacob Trump 6'3 225 Fr.
#15 Grant Jones 225 RS Fr.

#38 Eric Beisel 6'3 236 RS So.

#24 Terez Hall 5'11 215 Fr.

#34 Joey Burkett 6'2 210 So.

#4 Brandon Lee 6'2 220 So.

#40 Clarence Green 6'0 220 Sr.
#10 Kentrell Brothers 6'1 235 Sr.

#30 Michael Scherer 6'3 230 Jr.

#25 Donavin Newsom 6'2 230 Jr.
#35 Zane Jacoby 6'4 205 Fr.
#19 Ronnell Perkins 6'0 185 Fr.
#6 Tavon Ross 6'0 200 RS Fr.
#3 Cortland Browning 6'1 205 Sr.

#21 Ian Simon 6'0 195 Sr.

#31 Finnis Stribling IV 5'11 175 RS Fr.
#28 Logan Cheadle 5'10 180 So.
#11 Aarion Penton 5'10 190 Jr.
#1 Anthony Hines 6'2 185 RS So.
#88 Nate Howard 6'5 220 Fr. #61 Adam Roland RS Fr. 6'3 315 #94 Tyrell Jacobs 6'4 260 Fr. #52 Eddie Serano 6'3 235 So.
#98 Rocel McWilliams 6'2 240 RS Fr. #89 Tyler Hanneke 6'4 250 Jr. #18 Josh Moore 6'5 260 Fr. #92 Justin Grava 6'3 250 Jr.
#13 Spencer Williams 6'3 245 RS Fr. #96 A.J. Logan 6'2 300 RS So. #79 Terry Beckner Jr. 6'4 300 Fr #56 Walter Brady 6'3 255 RS Fr.

#91 Charles Harris 6'3 255 So.

#95 Rickey Hatley 6'4 285 Jr. #97 Josh Augusta 6'4 345 Jr. #16 Marcell Frazier 6'5 265 RS So.

#8 Thomas Wilson 5'10 190 So.

#11 Aarion Penton 5'10 190 Jr.
#25 Donavin Newsom 6'2 230 Jr.
#28 DeAndre McKenzie 6'1 185 Sr.
#5 John Gibson 6'0 190 Jr.
#7 Kenya Dennis 5'11 200 Sr.
#6 J'Mon Moore 6'3 190 RS So.
#17 DeSean Blair 6'3 190 RS Fr.
#84 Emanuel Hall 6'3 200 Fr.
#19 Oke Ashuke 5'10 185

#2 Nate Brown 6'3 205 So.
#16 Thomas Richard 6'1 190 RS Fr.
#14 Ray Wingo 5'11 180 RS Fr.
#85 Richard Floyd 5'11 175 Fr.
#41 Eric Laurent 6'2 215 Jr.
#60 Connor McGovern 6'4 305 RS Sr. #62 Taylor Chappell 6'5 305 RS Sr. #77 Evan Boehm 6'3 320 Sr. #73 Mitch Hall 6'5 310 RS Sr. #55 Nate Crawford 6'5 300 So.
#64 Paul Adams 6'6 290 RS Fr. #57 Alec Abeln 6'3 290 So. #63 Brad McNulty 6'4 300 RS. Sr. #71 Kevin Pendleton 6'4 315 RS Fr. #70 Malik Cuellar 6'5 300 Jr.
#68 Mike Fairchild 6'5 295 RS Fr. #78 Andy Bauer 6'3 310 RS Fr. #56 Sam Bailey 6'5 270 RS Fr. #66 Adam Ploudre 6'4 295 RS So. #72 Clay Rhodes 6'5 290 So.
#65 Tanner Owen 6'5 275 Fr. #52 Jordan Hill 6'2 270 So. #69 AJ Harris 6'4 285 Fr. #76 Thomas Grossman 6'3 260 Fr.

#75 Max Kavy 6'3 280 Fr.


#80 Sean Culkin6'6 245 Jr.


#10 Jason Reese 6'5 250 So.

#82Clayton Echard 6'5 260 Sr.
#11 Kendall Blanton 6'6 250 RS. Fr.
#54 Nick Monaghan 6'2 245 Sr.

#18 Wesley Leftwich 6'1 205 Sr.
#15 Keyon Dilosa 6'3 200 RS Fr.
#8Justin Smith 6'7 200 Fr.
#26Jake Brents 6'3 205 Jr.

#7 Maty Mauk 6'0 195 Jr.
#9 Eddie Printz 6'3 205 So.
#3 Drew Lock 6'4 205 Fr.
#1 Marvin Zanders 6'1 185 RS Fr.
#13 Corbin Berkstresser6'3 210 Sr.

#32 Russell Hansbrough 5'9 195 Sr.
#21 Ish Witter 5'10 190 So.
#36 Morgan Steward 6'0 210 Jr.
#35 Tyler Hunt 5'11 215 Sr.
#39 Chase Abbington 6'2 215 Jr.
#5 Marquise Doherty 6'1 205 Fr.
#4 Ryan Williams 6'0 180 Fr.
#99 Andrew Baggett 6'1 215 Sr.
#36 Corey Fatony 5'11 185.
#90 Nick Coffman 5'11 175 Jr.
# 3 John Gibson 6'0 190 Jr.
#22 Anthony Sherrils
#11 Aarion Penton 5'10 190 Jr.
#21 Ian Simon 6'0 195 Sr.
#8 Thomas Wilson 5'10 190 So.
#12 Johnathan Johnson 5'10 175 Fr.
#48 Rodrick Winters 5'11 225 RS Fr.
#90 Harold Brantley 6'3 290 RS Jr.